Wednesday, April 30, 2014

THYME Magazine: Rebuilding the Dream!

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XX

Overpasses for America

In the days that followed the attacks on America of September 11, 2001, American flags appeared on the overpasses leading into Washington DC. Slowly the flags faded and disappeared as the country sank into a period of what can only be called denial. The news media went into a full-court press to discredit the Presidency of George W. Bush as he sought to push back a dangerous enemy overseas. Never mind that they beheaded their captives, we had Guantanamo and the daily reports of troop deaths did little to help flagging support for Middle-East conflict. The mortgage crisis in 2006 created a new wave of panic. Many failed to realize that these bad mortgages resulted from implementation of the Fair Housing Act where government required banks to extend credit in situations where it was not prudent for them to do so. Though some in Congress raised the warning flag, the party in power effectively silenced much needed discussion of the problem which might have resulted in corrective action.

The media became willing accomplices in creating what became one-party rule. Blaming Bush for all ills, they installed the most unvetted President in American History. As fuel prices rose, the administration blocked projects like the Keystone Pipeline, which would have resulted in more economical energy. As America struggled to regain employment, the President rolled out his destructive takeover of American Healthcare. Insurance costs went up. People LOST coverage, and new mandates strangled companies that might have hired more workers. The country has not had such a slump in real estate and construction activity since the Second World War! What is despicable is that the unemployment numbers, public debt and uninsured BEFORE Obama seem pretty good in retrospect. In our last issue we addressed the problem of a Senate where party loyalists represent the interests of their leaders rather than the people. Now we must look at the problem of a media that fails to ask the hard questions. Remember how they were all saying: "We know very little about him," concerning Obama AFTER he was elected.

As people did learn more about the plans Barack Hussein Obama had to 'fundamentally transform' our great nation, many came to Washington to protest. On September 12, 2009 a great gathering occurred on the National Mall. TIME Magazine buried two pages of coverage in an issue who's cover proclaimed organizer Glenn Beck a 'Mad Man.' The great gathering DID begin the popular wave that swept a number of Conservatives into office in 2010. Still, the movement has undergone a deliberate and somewhat effective attempt to marginalize it by old guard politicians and media 'experts.' Clearly the media was NOT going to tell our story.

On March 28th, 29th, 2014 Overpasses For America (formerly named Overpasses for Obama's Impeachment) stepped out to the overpasses and street corners of America for their 11th national protest. Here at the Official Overpasses for America Site [click to read] there is plenty of good reporting. Founder James Neighbors is not afraid of a little honest news, especially if it helps restore the principles upon which our republic was founded. That involves direct opposition to some very UN-Constitutional things going on in our government right now.

Patriot Wave 11, dubbed by the group as Spring Break Out was the first major event of 2014, and thousands of Overpasses members across America participated in the protests. The group, founded in June 2013, is openly calling for the removal of Mr Obama from the White House for many reasons, among them his ineligibility for office, crimes committed during his tenure in the White House, and multiple violations of the Constitution.The full list makes Richard Nixon's alleged infractions look insignificant in comparison.

Signs and banners carried during the rallies cite things such as Benghazi, Extortion 17, ObamaCare, fake birth certificate, voter fraud and much more. Overpasses For America Founder, James Neighbors states the need for Obama's removal from office extends well beyond his criminal actions, that Mr Obama and his collaborators must be made an example of for future generations of Americans, and as a warning to future politicians that the American people are awake, and are none too pleased with politics as usual across the nation. Again, if the prosecution of Nixon was to serve as a warning to future office holders, we do the country a grave disservice by not prosecuting the well-documented abuses by the current administration and its subservient agencies.

On April 15, 2010 I was back in Washington myself. We were in the city to protest the President's Healthcare legislation and when we got to Virginia Senator Mark Warner's office we were herded into a conference room by Warner's staff and basically were lectured to as to why we "had to" pass this flawed legislation. The staffers really had nothing better than Nancy Pelosi's famous statement to give us though. I made the comment: "If the car needs a tune-up, you don't pull the engine!" and was rebuked for it. The protest was a failure as Warner was one of the deciding votes that gave us the ObamaCare legislation. Overpasses for America plans on going the route of Ronald Reagan, who politely but firmly stuck to his relatively simple message. Repeat, repeat and repeat so that if the press wants a quote they get you saying what you want to. Overpasses has big plans now to hold their ground.

The movement has teamed up with Colonel Harry Riley and Operation American Spring, and members are carrying signs and banners about the Washington DC event which begins on May 16th. Organizers for OAS (Operation American Spring) state that over 5 million people have made commitments to be in Washington for the peaceful demand that Obama and many members of Congress step down from their positions, and the return to a Constitution based government in our nations' capitol.Note that I've underlined begins. This is more than a one-day blitz. This is nothing less than great communication of time-tested principle. Neighbors also states that the Overpasses movement is highly encouraging members to find their way to Washington DC for American Spring. He also emphasized that many members of the movement are in dire financial straits due to the failing economy, and those members will be rallying in their area, so the nation is aware of the events occurring in Washington DC.

Neighbors continued by saying that those who will be in Washington for American Spring expect a media blackout as is common by the mainstream media when disgruntled Americans protest to express their discontent and the group believes the protesters across the nation will raise enough questions by the public to media outlets, that they will either report the event or further lose trust of viewers and readers. Never forget the power of those flags waving above Interstate 66. The message will be spread! The people will be heard!

On April 19th, 2014, Overpasses For America held their 12th national event, the Patriots Day Patriot Wave with many more planned for the entire year.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

THYME Magazine: Special Senate Race Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XIX
There Are Good Candidates!

"One of the things you are going to see is a coalition that is just about completely taken over the Republican Party in this state and if they have their way it’s going to take over state government. It is made up of the Christian Coalition, but not just them. It is made up of the right-to-lifers, but not just them. It’s made up of the NRA, but not just them. It is made up of the home-schoolers, but not just them. It’s made up of a whole coalition of people that have all sorts of differing views that I think most of us in this room would find threatening to what it means to be an American." -- Mark Warner, in a comment he thought to be "off mike."

The standard media lament: "There is nobody out there" is a too-often repeated mantra about political races. It is simply an excuse for lazy journalism. The 'Third Party' candidate usually is simply a 'spoiler' but there are times when good men and women step up to the challenge that need to be told. Sure, they may not make it past the June Party Convention, but in this writer's mind, it is important that we hear about them nonetheless! While independent candidates rarely win national races, the possibility exists for strong, independent thinking leaders to make it through the party process and emerge as strong contenders.

Shak Hill is one such leader. On his website it states that he is a fighter for liberty and defender of the US Constitution. Active in the community, Shak has been elected to City Council, been involved as Board Member and Director for numerous non-profit organizations. He works tirelessly through his long, recognized service to his community and the Commonwealth of Virginia to restore the values that have made our country great. This year, Shak and his family were awarded the 2013 Outstanding Volunteer Family of the Year Award for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since 1997, Shak and Robin have fostered 46 children. Shak’s current volunteer work continues as a Trustee of the Family and Children’s Trust Fund, Board member of the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras and Dulles Chamber of Commerce (2013 Event Committee Co-Chairman of the Year Winner).

From his days growing up in Louisiana, Shak learned the importance of discipline, work ethic and personal responsibility. When his parents were unable to continue his Catholic School education through high school, Shak resolved to pay for it himself. He earned his way working odd jobs as a bus boy at a local restaurant, a gas attendant, and a stable boy at Louisiana Downs Race Track. He graduated from Loyola College Preparatory School and was accepted to and graduated from the United States Air Force Academy. Shak ended his career as a flight commander in the Presidential Wing, Andrews AFB, MD and a decorated combat pilot. Although no longer active in the military, Shak continues to reach out to our veterans, through Angel Flight, to welcome WWII heroes to our nation’s capital.

After leaving the Air Force and with his master’s degree in finance, Shak began helping individuals and families obtain their financial goals. Today, Shak is a job creator, who owns a financial and insurance practice in Burke. Because of his strong value of education, he has continued his training and is a Certified Financial Planner, a Chartered Life Underwriter, and a Chartered Financial Consultant. As a service to the community, Shak utilized his collective knowledge and authored two books. Shak greatly enjoys imparting knowledge that empowers others to make informed decisions to meet their unique goals and dreams.

In 1992, Shak’s wife Robin was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. To make an already intense situation worse, she was pregnant with their second child. The cancer was aggressive and in Stage 4. The doctors counseled her to terminate the pregnancy, so that they could start treatments immediately. Shak and Robin acted on their faith and dedication to the principles they believe in, rather than abort. Today, Shak enjoys spending time with his wife of 24 years and their six children! Shak and Robin are proud home schoolers.

Every year Shak hosts the “We Read the Constitution” event on the anniversary of the Constitution. Shak believes, “America is exceptional because of the way we have chosen to govern ourselves. We all must understand and appreciate the Constitution and the greatness of this document and our governing bodies. If we depart from that Constitution, then we enter into areas unknown, without the blessing of God, and without the People controlling the government, but rather the government controlling the people. Look around and decide for yourself just how close we are to the latter.”

“My wife and I have built a comfortable life. I am not about politics as usual. I am not part of the ruling class, but I am fearful that our country is heading in the wrong direction. I will be beholden to you, the Constitution and our Creator.”

Pretty impressive! But I'll bet a lot of readers don't know who Shak Hill is. The standard media story is about Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie. Sure, the convention process usually goes in the predictable scenario, and even a strong contender like Hill must work hard to make himself known, build a core group of delegates and convince undecided delegates that he indeed able to do the job better than anyone else. He must be, like Ronald Reagan, a "Great Communicator," building bridges while never compromising on who he is in his core beliefs. It is a daunting task and not for the faint of heart, yet it should be somewhat instinctive for a man who flew fighter jets in wartime.

Upon winning the party nomination, he might do well to remember that Mike Farris recruited delegates and won handily only to be shunned by the leaders of his own party. I do not know a simple fix for this other than an appeal directly to the people of Virginia. Again, Reagan may be the example to follow. In the wake of the 1964 loss by Barry Goldwater, Republicans had little taste for running another pure Conservative, but Reagan kept on message and the rest is history. Party stalwarts will do well to remember what Reagan did to lift the Republican brand, and embrace candidates like Hill when they do emerge from the process. Gone are the days when the convention or the primary is the big show and the general election an anticlimax. The future of our country depends upon a sound push to retake the Senate. We dare not let our lesser squabbles deter us from the larger mission.

"Articles of Impeachment" Delivered

On April 22nd Members of Overpasses for America and Operation American Spring delivered "Articles of Impeachment" to the House and Senate. This is a prelude to their planned rally in Washington D.C. on May 16. James Neighbors, founder of Overpasses for America, [1.] has joined forces with Colonel Harry Riley, founder of Operation American Spring [2.] to bring a true grassroots voice to Washington, dedicated to the Founding Father's vision of limited government. Col. Riley asks all Americans to "...bathe this effort in prayer," and says the only "agenda" is the "...restoration of Constitutional government."

James Neighbors was one of the group personally delivering the "Articles of Impeachment," cited the lack of accountability in Operation Fast and Furious, the terror attack in Benghazi, the murder of members of SEAL Team 6 known as Extortion 17, and the "the unconstitutional and unlawful modifications of the Affordable Care Act..." Neighbors also echoes the concern of many Americans when he cites "House investigations" which seemingly go nowhere "involving the various scandals that have enveloped the Obama administration..." (to be Continued in the next issue)

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Walk Around Sherando Lake

Springtime Comes to the Foot of the Blue Ridge

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Dogwood flower emerging.

Trying to sneak in a short hike during my granddaughter's nap Sunday, I found myself drawn to the shores of Sherando. Sherando Lake is nestled into a valley beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains near Waynesboro, Virginia. It is a special place. My children were baptized there. We enjoyed many a fine picnic there. Lately, however, the shores of the wonderful old lake have become a more somber place for prayer and quiet reflection. I've gone there in some of the darkest seasons of life to find solace in G-d's Creation.

It must have begun with my old beagle Lucky. As he was nearing the end of his life, he still loved a good trip to the woods. His last hike was on the lake trail and when we got about 100' into the woods, he looked up at me with those big brown eyes that pleaded: "I can't do it anymore." I picked him up and carried him. We savored the smell of an autumn wood together for the last time. The next time I walked that trail, I was alone... but I was NOT alone, as I was pressing close to the Divine in deeply felt prayer.

As I prayed for loved ones and sought refreshment for my spirit, the old trail became a chapel. Many times I felt G-d's tender hand there, yet the trails had become a place of sad memories... so I came in Spring, on the day of Resurrection, full of the joy of Miracles! The serviceberrytrees were in blossom and I saw the first dogwood blossoms. I remembered the fat buds that had been G-d's message to me that there is indeed life to come.

Legend of The Dogwood Tree

Two thousand years ago, few trees in the Middle East were big enough to construct anything. However, one tree was valued above the others for its thick trunk and fine, strong wood. When the Romans came to rule over Jerusalem, their government used this same timber to build the crosses for executing criminals. A group of workers were assigned to gather wood for the crosses. Before long, every Roman official knew the best wood came from these gatherers of execution wood, so those workers became popular. 

One day, the wood gatherers received a special request. An officer of the Roman court came and said, "The King of Jews is to be put to death. Deliver an extra-large cross made from your finest wood." So, a fresh tree was cut from the forest of the trees with thick trunks and fine, strong wood. An extra-tall (and extra-heavy) cross was quickly made and delivered. 

Three days after the death of Jesus of Nazereth, the chief wood gatherer got alarming news. "All of our finest trees are withering!" the messenger whispered. The wood gatherer hurried to the forest and saw that it was true. 

Several years later, the chief wood gatherer heard that, every spring, many people visited the old forest that had once made his job so easy. Despite his advancing years, he set out to discover why. He saw the remains of forest, now like a salty bottoms, with only a few trees still standing tall, bare, lifeless and rotting. 

But what was this? As he drew closer, his feeble eyes could make out the people walking among thousands of beautiful, flowering bushes. Seeing one of his own workers there, the old man said, "No one could ever make a cross out of this twisted wood. Our finest tree has gone to the dogs!" He noticed the beautiful white flowers, each blossom looking as if it had been burned from the touch of a miniature cross. -- As told to Ben Baston by his grandmother, Louise Brown. ht/Kristina Elaine Riley

There Is A Legend 

At the time of Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus nailed upon it, sensed this. 

In His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering Jesus said to the tree: " Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross--two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember.

"The pink dogwood is said to be blushing for shame because of the cruel purpose which it served in the Crucifixion. The weeping dogwood further symbolized the sorrow. The red dogwood, called the Cherokee, bears the color to remind us of the blood shed by our Savior.

In my youth, the Legend of the Dogwood was often repeated on postcards in those wonderful old racks you found in roadside diners. We sort of memorized the gist of it but forgot the whole story. Sherando, that wonderful old lake, is a place where I have kneeled often at the feet of the cross... today it shines with the promise of new life!

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Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) along the side of the lake.

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photo 3

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THYME Magazine: Special Easter Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XVII

The Meaning of the Miraculous

For many Centuries man has acknowledged  the miraculous. This week the Jewish community celebrates their deliverance from Egypt and the beginning of their journey to the Promised Land. A dialogue set in a meals has all generations together consider the preservation of their people that could only be seen as a work of G-d. Previous generations always saw G-d, or some miraculous force as Creator. The Patriarchs saw Him as Provider and Deliverer! The relatively recent concept of Evolution (Charles Darwin in the Nineteenth Century) has created a philosophy of Naturalism that either outright rejects or quietly diminishes the Theistic explanation.

I once attended an Easter service at a large church in Richmond. The minister asserted that the Resurrection was not important! I don't remember anything else he said. I was astonished because Christ's Resurrection would seem to be a cornerstone of Christianity. Many voices today denounce Faith. They may not directly denounce it, but in the academy it is the subject of "open discourse" such as that experienced by Ryan Rotella at FAU [click to read]. Rotella was asked to leave a class. His "offense" was refusing to participate in an excercise where students were required to "stamp on Jesus." Dennis Prager [click to read] has more details. Though the school ultimately apologized to Rotella, it justified its so-called "open discourse" in doing so.

Running from the Resurrection

In fact, among many in academia today you are likely to hear some variation of the following: "There are other reasons why I consider Christianity to be an ill-chosen creed, such as the morals actually taught in the Bible, many of which are abhorrent to a compassionate and just man, or other details of its theology which run counter to observable facts." writes atheist Richard Carrier in introduction to his argument against Jesus' resurrection from the dead.

Here in his introduction, Carrier gives what I believe is his real reason for being uncomfortable with a physical resurrection. A G-d who can so control the laws of nature can ask 'unreasonable' things of us as well. A 'Compassionate and Just Man,' in Carrier's world can support abortion on demand because it is not 'abhorrent' to his viewpoint that abortion is a kind response to the needs of women with unplanned pregnancies. The beating heart of the unborn child need not be seen here as an 'observable fact.' Likewise, the 'restrictive' definition of marriage as a relationship defined by Scripture in specific terms may be viewed as archaic and discriminatory.If G-d didn't design it, He cannot write the specifications.

The elimination of Christianity as an authoritative source allows us to personalize moral decisions. In a culture that elevates self-actualization, this is virtue. It spares us the heavy lifting required to weigh moral absolutes with human frailty.

Jesus, meeting a Samaritan woman at a well, is a prime example of what I mean by this heavy lifting. Balancing compassion for the woman with his observation that she has not been a faithful wife, Jesus creates a constructive dialogue. He does not condemn her, nor does He overlook the complexity she has created in her relationships. He speaks truth and ultimately the dialogue that results sets her free. Here Absolute Love and Absolute Truth are in no way mutually exclusive. In the end her search for 'Living Water' trumps her desire to live as she pleases. [2.]

A G-d who can part the Red Sea, Create worlds and has power over death is pretty much to be respected. A G-d who changes human lives in intimate communion with his Creation is amazing.

Before Jesus appeared, the concept of Resurrection is found in Scripture. Sometimes it is very clear and other times it is a logical assumption consistent with the text.

Resurrection Foretold

"And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." -- Isaiah 53:9-12

The famous Messianic text above talks of triumph after death. Other texts that may be seen as prophetic of Resurrection are: Genesis 3:15, Psalm 2:7, Psalm 16:9-11, Psalm 22:14-25, Psalm 30:29, Psalm 40:13, Psalm 110:1, Psalm 118:21-24, Hosea 5:15-6:3, Zechariah 12:10.

Resurrection Documented and Verified

"I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better, fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died, and rose again from the dead." says Dr. Thomas Arnold, formerly Professor of History at Rugby and Oxford Universities. Simon Greenleaf, one of the most skilled legal minds ever produced in this nation, top authority on the question of what constitutes sound evidence, developer of the Harvard Law School, after a thorough evaluation of the four Gospel accounts from the point of view of their validity as objective testimonial evidence, concluded:

"It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact." [3.] Dr. Henry M. Morris PhD writes more on The Importance of the Resurrection [click to read]. His point is that the foundational truth of the Christian faith has plenty of evidence to support it.

A G-d who can part the Red Sea, Create worlds and has power over death is pretty much to be respected. A G-d who changes human lives in intimate communion with his Creation is amazing.

A Caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Nature itself suggests the possibility of miraculous transformation and new life! Rice Paper Butterfly, or Paper Kite Butterfly, Idea leuconoe.
Illustration © 2013, by Kristina Elaine Riley for HOPE Publications, Pvt. ltd.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

THYME Magazine: Special Palm Sunday Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XVI

How to Cure Conflict

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty G-d, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." -- Isaiah 9:6

The world is a dangerous place today. As an American President faces a resolute Vladimir Putin, who is intent on reinvigorating the Soviet Empire, and Israel's Binyamin Netanyahu deals with hostilities on multiple borders, the problem of human conflict is on our minds. Indeed it seems like peace is beyond our grasp. Thousands of years of human history are filled with wars and strife.

This coming Sunday Christians remember the time when the Prince of Peace [1.] (Isaiah 9:6) rode into Jerusalem on a donkey! The people lined the way spreading their cloaks and palm branches, expecting the return of the King in an earthly manifestation of the Heavenly Kingdom. [2.] Jesus, however, had greater plans in mind.

Jesus rode into town as the lambs were being brought into the homes in preparation for Passover, the remembrance of G-d's deliverance from Pharaoh centuries before. [3.] Instead of establishing an earthly kingdom, He would be tried by both religious and civil authorities. Although there was no crime committed on His part, He would be sentenced to die a most horrible death by crucifixion.

He ate the Passover meal with His disciples, one of whom betrayed Him. The Roman ruler Pilate could find no fault in Him, yet the religious leaders stirred up a mob to demand His death. He died on a cross on a hill called Golgotha, flanked by two thieves. Hardly the way to begin a movement to transform the world, but that is what history tells us.

His death conquered sin and death. [4.] "The day Jesus was crucified was the day of the Passover celebration and the day that the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed. For the previous 1,200 years, the priest would blow the shophar (ram's horn) at 3:00 p.m. - the moment the lamb was sacrificed, and all the people would pause to contemplate the sacrifice for sins on behalf of the people of Israel. At 3:00, when Jesus was being crucified, He said, "It is finished" - at the moment that the Passover lamb was sacrificed and the shophar was blown from the Temple. The sacrifice of the lamb of God was fulfilled at the hour that the symbolic animal sacrifice usually took place. At the same time, the veil of the Temple (a three-inch thick, several story high cloth that demarked the Holy of Holies) tore from top to bottom - representing a removal of the separation between G-d and man. Fifty days later, on the anniversary of the giving of the law (Pentecost), G-d left the earthly temple to inhabit those who call on the name of Jesus through His Holy Spirit." -- How the Passover Reveals Jesus Christ by Rich Deem [click to read].

But the story does not end there. In Revelation 21 Christians look to a New Heaven and a New Earth where a Heavenly Jerusalem descends to join the Earth. Here is a Kingdom that needs no temple, needs no sun to light it, for G-d Himself is the force that illuminates it! [5.]

"And I saw a new Heaven and a new earth: for the first Heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from G-d out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of G-d is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their G-d." -- Revelation 21:1-3

West_web East_web
Journey to Jesus, a mural depicting the nations coming to Jesus in the New Heaven and New Earth described in Revelation 21. Mural by Kristina Elaine Riley and Bob Kirchman

Journey to Jesus [click to view larger images].

The Journey is complete when you reach the kind face of Jesus!
"I judge all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity." —John Wesley

Heaven is For Real Movie

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

THYME Magazine: Recognizing True Greatness

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XV

Recognizing True Greatness
G-d's Not Dead

What do you do when your faith is challenged? A new film asks that question as it follows a college student's unexpected 'testing' when his philosophy professor demends that all of the students write "G-d is Dead" on a piece of paper, sign it, and hand it in at the beginning of the first class, or face a failing grade. For most, it is a simple exercise of class compliance, but for freshman Josh Wheaton it is a demand that he deny the very foundations of who he is. Josh nervously refuses to comply, raising the ire of professor Radisson, who counters Wheaton's refusal with a daunting assignment; he must prove G-d's existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence. He must go head to head with Radisson in a series of classroom debates. If he cannot convince his classmates of G-d's existence, he fails the course.

The movie G-d's Not Dead opened last week in just under 800 theaters, yet it sold out in many locations and outperformed films with far larger exposure. Directed by Harold Cronk, the film dramatizes what is unfortunately an all too commonly seen antipathy to faith in the modern academic community. But consider this; the universities that the radicals of the 1960's became tenured in during the years that followed owe their beginnings to people of faith who sought to bring truth and order, rooted in faith, to the Americas. Great schools like Dartmouth and William and Mary sought to bring the invigorating element of Faith to the populace of the New World, both Native and European. That initial mission is now reflected only in the aforementioned schools' mascots and Dartmouth's remaining scholarships for people of Native American ancestry.

“G-d’s Not Dead didn’t have a massive marketing budget, a liberal A-list star above the title or even the same number of screens most mainstream movies receive. The film is still on pace to snare the fourth spot in the weekend’s box office chart in a very competitive frame. LA Times: ”The religious drama ‘G-d’s Not Dead’ surprises at box office. The film, which opened on just 780 screens nationwide, took in more than $2.8 million Friday. It’s likely to be the No. 3 movie for the weekend, behind the bigger-budget, wider-released “Divergent” and “Muppets Most Wanted.” - Breitbart

The need to consider the greatness of G-d and His story are nothing new. This is reflected in the hymns of old and the wonder that they still inspire!

Carl Boberg.

He was 26 years old. The year was 1885. Carl Boberg, a Swedish minister,  wrote a poem entitled, “O Store Gud”. Boberg’s poem was published in 1886. The title, “O Store Gud,” translated into English is “O Great G-d,” translated into English, it reads like this:

When I the world consider
Which Thou has made by Thine almighty Word
And how the webb of life Thy wisdom guideth
And all creation feedeth at Thy board.
Then doth my soul burst forth in song of praise
Oh, great G-d
Oh, great G-d.

Stuart K. Hine, who wrote the hymn "How Great Thou Art" that we recognize today, was an English missionary to Poland in the 1920s. Climbing through the Carpathian Mountains, his entourage was faced with a gathering storm. Inspired by "O Store Gud," he penned the first verse of the hymn we know today. The storm was so severe that the party could not travel further. Reaching a little village, they were given shelter by the local schoolmaster.

Traveling on into Romania and into Bukovina, Hine wandered forest glades with the young people in his company. Thus was born the second verse. The conversion of many people living in the Carpathian Mountains inspired the third verse and the fourth, speaking of Christ's triumphant return to Earth, was written when Hine returned to England.

Maltbie Davenport Babcock.

 Born in Syracuse, New York in 1858, Maltbie Davenport Babcock was the Pastor of a church in Lockport, New York. He often took long walks along the Niagra Escarpment, where he enjoyed the sweeping views of Lake Ontario. He would say to his wife Katherine: "I am going out to see the Father's World." Indeed, his walks with G-d in the beauty of Upstate New York inspired him to write the poem that became the great hymn. My beautiful wife was born in Syracuse, New York, though her Oklahoma accent, acquired in her childhood, makes that a well kept secret! She often hears me express a sentiment similar to Babcock's as I head for the Blue Ridge Mountains for the "Sunday Afternoon Walk."

Both hymns begin with an awe of G-d revealed in observation of nature. They build to an understanding of Christ's redemptive Love and rise to an expression of the triumphant Messiah establishing his rule and order on this Earth.

I have always loved the hymns these men wrote. The Hymns Project [click to read] was inspired by them. My friend and Colleague, Kristina Elaine Riley actually deserves the credit for first developing graphic expression for great hymns. Her work on Henry Alford's Come Ye Thankful People, Come [click to read] and Joy to the World [click to read] deserve recognition in their own right. The Hymns Project was an attempt to build a visual representation of the rich musical tradition began by Carl Boberg, Stuart K. Hine and Maltbie Davenport Babcock.

The Hymns Project.

Planning on Seeing the Movie Noah?

Here are some thoughts from my friend Pastor Chuck Balsamo. Many are criticizing the Biblical inaccuracy of the film and forgetting that this is a project by non-believers. Pastor Balsamo points out that any time people outside of the household of Faith delve into Biblical themes, the possibility exists for there to develop a great dialogue. To those who are ready to pounce on the film's weaknesses, he writes:

"Why focus on how much you hate this movie, and miss a huge opportunity to start up real discussions with real people about who G-d really is?

Some people live on a soap box, ranting about the things they hate. Who knows, maybe they’re doing good in some bizarre way… like shoving back the tide of evil or something.

But, I think there is a better way. That is, to seize the better opportunity!"

The Noah Movie – Are You Missing The Real Opportunity? [click to read]